Exhibition set up, NGBK, Berlin, photo by Nihad Nino Pušija
In collaboration with Lana Čmajčanin
4 channel video installation with slide projection of Skenderija archive DV NTSC
Camera and editing: Lana Čmajčanin and Adela Jušić
Sound editing: Ognjen Šavija
Duration: 00:08:36; 00:07:53; 00:07:39; 00:04:56
Translation assistance: Mike Iacavone
Year of production: 2011
Special thanks to: Ambrosia, Bukovina i Hrastovina, Jusuf Hadžifejzović, Dom mladih, Skenderija
Skenderija is a building complex in the city center of Sarajevo, originally constructed in the late 1960s to house a sports and cultural center. The horizontally extended flat concrete architecture is a remarkable artefact of Yugoslav modernism which survived the war without major damage: only the well known youth center burned down in 1992. Skenderija has been an important center of cultural life in Sarajevo which hosted, among many other events, the premiere of the famous Partisan classic Battle of Neretva. Since the end of the war it has undergone various changes and phases of decline and revitalization. The underground shopping mall exists to this day.
The project by Adela Jušić and Lana Čmajčanin reflects the current status and use of the Skenderija complex, opening up questions of public space and collective memory. Skenderija is among the very few remaining commercial centers still under state control. With the development of new and more modern shopping malls in Sarajevo, it has entered a state slow demise, with some shops still operating, temporal use by artists, and little hope for revitalization. Skenderija, once built as a symbol of modern society, turns into a screen for memory, criticism of present socio-political conditions, and future projections.
The artists held interviews with shop-owners, employees, and artists who established temporal studio spaces, representing the entire palette of small and collective utopias,of personal and social beliefs and dreams. The possibility of reconstructing something that used to be a central place of leisure and commonality during socialist times is being investigated while certain thematic threads can be discerned throughout the various cross-edited statements. These concern the questions of transitional society as well as personal life situations between past and future. Another topic addressed in this work is that of art and its role in public spaces such as Skenderija.
The resulting multichannel installation and the accompanying archive can be understood as a living monument to the past and also the present of this place. The artists genuinely allow for the story of Skenderija to be ‘told by itself,’ to unfold between the personal statements and memories of its users.
Text from the catalog “Spaceship Yugoslavia/The suspension of time”, Argbooks, Berlin, 2011
“ Beside a slide show of historical photographs and a video presenting some impressions of the shopping mall we see interviews with artists who established temporal studio and gallery spaces on some of the many vacant commercial premises. In these conversations, the Skenderija, once built as a symbol of modern society, turns into a screen for memory, criticism of present socio-political conditions, but also both personal and collective utopias. Moreover, it touches upon issues such as the use of public space and the role of art in a transforming society.”
Eva Meran, Rotor
Still images from videos
Exhibition view “Be realistic – Demand the impossible!”, Rotor, Graz, photo by Thomas Raggam
Exhibition view “Be realistic – Demand the impossible!”, Kriterion, Sarajevo, photo by Lupi Spuma
Photographs, black and white, unknown authors, around 70-ies and 80-ies, Skenderija archive